Finally reaching its “legal age”, this year's edition of the Longboard Classic was blessed with bluebird skies and crispy firn. And US freestyle legend Jeff Brushie as special guest!
With blazing sunshine and spring temperatures the mood was as jolly and the spirits as high as the “Woodstock of Snowboarding” calls for. Yet not just down in the tent village down in the valley, but also at the starting line high up the mountain at the Albona Grat, where the emotions of the more than 350 participants were running just as high with anticipation for the backcountry race going down 1001 meters of height.
Traditionally the starting field is judged in 3 categories: Masters, No-School und Old-School. This year the LBC Masters Men were sent ahead to level the course for the rest of the field with their mega planks. And the plan worked out perfectly, with Ralph Castelberg grabbing the win on his 202cm longboard after 4 years of LBC abstinence. Respect is also due to the five courageous Masters Ladies who braved the course on their XL board – all of them passionate LBC fans and standing participants, with Liz Kristoferitsch, former champion of 2015, winning again.
The No-School category was the biggest for men and women – which is no big surprise seeing that everything that is too short for LBC Masters and too new for LBC Old School is pooled up here. Yet the participants were neither less colorful nor in any way less motivated but accountable for the most impressive views for the spectators in the valley – watching so many people riding one face is not something you get too often. Stefanie Günther from Switzerland was fastest woman in the No School group, while none of the guys were not able to beat snowboard wild boar Ueli Kestenholz.
As the cherry on top of the race, the Old Schoolers were followed by Family & Kids, who scored by far the most cheers reaching the finish line. And rightly so, as still sliding sideways with more than 70 years under your belt deserves as much respect as embarking on your first backcountry at the tender age of five.
This wave of enthusiasm and flood of offspring also inspired Titus Dittmann and Jeff Brushie, who have been inspiration for many of the older participants. While they saw themselves face to face with their teenage idols, they passed on their stoke and passion to the next generation.
Everyone who lingered around the test area after the open air prize giving was treated to a very special extracurricular highlight by US rock band “Max Pain and the Groovies”. Invited by Pogo Snowboards, they made a little detour to the mountains on their tour through Europe. After a little driving odyssey through three villages with the name “Stuben” they finally found the right place for their gig. Which turned into the perfect warm-up for the legendary party night in the LBC event tent, which in itself would utterly justify the journey to the Arlberg. Because Mortal Kombat Sound and Microphone Man Ucee really know what they're doing and pumped up the crowd with their tunes and till not a single foot could keep still and each and everyone joined the Bob Marley choirs.
Because that is the flair of the LBC and the reason it's such a unique event: the love for snowboarding unites us all. No matter what board your ride and whether your dig Rock, Reggae or Hip Hop – in Stuben we celebrate the Sideways Style, again and again and again.
Come join us next year! The weekend after Easter - Saturday, 7th of April 2018.
Photos by Sam Oetiker